Why Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey is the most entertaining film dealing with domestic violence
Director: Vipin Das
Cast: Darshana Rajendran, Basil Joseph
Jaya is a typical middle-class girl from Kollam. Like every woman, she is denied a choice to live the way wants and has no other option but to oblige the men in the house. It is not that she does not protest, but her attempts end up being futile. The detail with which her plight is shown, right from when she was a young girl, is accurate in every sense. Being denied permission to go on a tour from school, and not having a choice to select a college of her choice, everything makes us feel sorry for her, but also makes us laugh at the humor with which it is presented to us.
Without getting a chance to complete her education, Jaya is married off to Rajesh (Basil Joseph), a poultry farmer. As her so-called well-wisher relatives send her off, crying meaninglessly, Jaya reaches her in-law’s home to find things at the home broken and damaged, like a warning for what might come.
The absurdly superficial yet perfectly done response to domestic violence
One slap grows on to become twenty-one slaps in six months of their marital life. When her family turns down her cries for help, she decides to take things into her hands, and from this point, the film takes an absurdly interesting turn. She masters kickboxing to deal with her husband’s blows. The fight scenes between Rajesh and Jaya are the most fun in the entire run of the film, not because the underdog female decided to teach the violent man a lesson. But because it was so rare to have such a segment with humor and its absurd superficiality, yet so perfectly done, to send across a subtle statement. No, it does not offer a solution that when a man comes to hit you, you hit him back with your power moves. The scenes actually lampoon the domestic violence done by men and pity them. It takes pleasure in Rajesh’s powerlessness (the same power that mostly drives his arrogance) when he gets brutally beaten up by Jaya. Maybe in some way, it offers a cathartic experience for many women who have gone through Jaya’s situation. A fantasy moment for them to feel powerful like Jaya.
Using humor to send out the word
Rich in humor Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey never for a moment gives up on the seriousness of the subject it handles. In fact, it uses this humor, packs it in a fresh narrative, and delivers us a film that will be remembered and talked about a lot.
To create a conversation around a serious and sensitive subject, Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey makes every character into a caricature, but this is mainly for the humor narrative. All the characters in Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey, big or small are well written and stay with us.
If you listen closely to the songs in Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey, you will see how the simple lyrics of these songs actually describe the current situation of Jaya and Rajesh. The background score by Ankit Menon adds to the entire narrative, making every scene more engaging.
What is more interesting to notice here is how this well-captured female-centric film has been written by talented male screenwriters; Vipin Das (also the director) and Nashi Mohamed Famy.
In Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey it is Darshana who reads out the Statutory Warning: Smoking Cigarettes is Injurious to Health. It was impressive how the directors, right from the beginning of the film give a voice to the women, especially in a sequence where the male leads often lend their voices. With this small yet significant gesture, the makers stand true to the film’s agenda.
What the film could have also added was maybe give a more glimpse of how Jaya’s brother had her back and maybe was the only male family member who understood her. Rajesh gives a monologue on how men can’t survive alone as they are so used to being dependent on women for their needs. While the film looks deep from a female’s perspective, this dialogue by Rajesh could have been explored more to see how the patriarchy has made things worse for men. But I guess these would have stretched this already two-and-a-half-hour movie.
In the limited list of movies dealing with gender dynamics and domestic violence, Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey would be perhaps the most entertaining one.
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